We are entering the season of homeschool conferences, and if you have ever attended a conference you know that it can be an overwhelming experience. There are a lot of people, a whole bunch of vendors, thousands of books, and so much information. It really helps to go prepared for the onslaught of awesomeness… Complete with random pic’s from life that I love. 🙂
I always feel a bit sorry for ladies when they tell me they have been homeschooling for a number of years and have never attended a conference. If you are one of those ladies I hope this year you will try to make it to at least one and see what you are missing. There is so much out there to learn and be encouraged by!
Charmin, Cheryl, and I have complied a list of things that we believe will help you to get the most out of your conference experience. Check them out:
- Make sure you know what your homeschooling style is! It helps to know your ‘flavour’ when you make your list and are talking to the vendors in order to be more directed. Often the vendor is excited about something that doesn’t suit me at all – not a bad curriculum, just not a good choice for my situation. I’m a victim of marketing and am drawn to programs that aren’t a good choice for us for whatever reason, and then I talk to the vendors and they recommend other programs and I want it all. I don’t consider my teaching style, my schedule, my educational goals, how demanding my established programs are. I open a catalog or look at a website and I want them all. The more I understand myself and my situation, the more prepared I am to help the vendor find what I need. I am like the waves driven by the wind and tossed without an idea of my needs and strengths. Which brings us to the most important advice of all….
- Spend some time praying and asking the Lord for help in choosing.
- Write down and list curriculum and books that you are interested in for each child. Less brain work for you as you search for them. You can take a look at them in depth at the conference and make sure it’s going to work for your family.
- Contact the vendors prior to the conference (don’t wait until a day or two before. They have a lot of prep work and are very busy the week before a conference!) and ask them if they could have what you’re interested in on hand at the conference. They have a lot of inventory and cannot possible know what everyone would like to see on their table and they can’t bring all their wares, so it’s helpful to know what you are interested in.
- Don’t be afraid to bring your homeschool supplies catalogues that you have marked up and sticky-noted.
- ALWAYS check for books on sale second hand first. If you can save money on the things you need that frees up some cash for extras and fun stuff at the conference. Swap & Sell sites are good and Cheryl always has lots of inventory at HomeGrown Homeschool Consignment & Supplies. A quick message to her and she can tell you if she has what you’re looking for. The prices there are great! Look for HomeGrown on Facebook as well.
- Bring pens and a notebook to jot down new curriculum or ideas/thoughts and big, heavy duty shopping bag or backpack to carry your goodies (books get heavy).
- Bring a homeschooling friend to help you make decisions and bounce ideas off of. I’s always more fun with a friend.
- Write down any questions you will want to ask the speakers/ vendors/ friends & new acquaintances.
- Don’t just talk to people you know about what curriculum they use and how they ‘do’ homeschool. Part of the great experience at a conference is seeing homeschool through someone else’s eyes. You don’t have all the answers & best methods, and neither does the next lady. Chatting together about what we each do opens us up to new possibilities…. or confirms that where we are at is perfect for us.
- Talk to ladies who are far ahead of where you are at. Do you see older children that have learned and are accomplished in
areas that fits with your homeschooling vision? Talk to that mom that has already accomplished those same sorts of goals. Don’t just talk to mothers that are in the same season you are in.
- And last, but definitely not least!… Read ‘Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe’ by Todd Wilson. This will help you keep your wits about you when you see those seemingly perfect perky homeschooling moms walking around the conference area. You know, the ones whom you are sure have got it all figured out. This will help you see that they aren’t perfect and have ha
rd days and mess up just the same as you… It will also take the pressure off of trying to appear like you have it all together and how discouraging that is to all of us other moms when you do that.
So that’s what we came up with. We hope this helps! Please feel free to leave a comment if you have thought of something we’ve left out. And if you see us at a conference come on over and say hello. We look forward to meeting you!
2 thoughts on “Getting Prepared for a Conference”
This sounds like something we would be interested in. However, I find it discouraging that all advertising is directed to homeschool moms and not dads. There are dads that homeschool and unfortunately the discription and conference is not inclusive of men. I am surprised since our society has moved toward equality and inclusiveness for both men and women. Perhaps this is something you may want to consider
Thanks for your thoughts Natasha! I agree that it is important to include both mothers and fathers in homeschool and family encouragement. We are working toward having a conference geared toward couples to help and build up families. Though we have big dreams for the Valley Homeschool Encouragement Conference, it is still in its early stages and that means that for this year I’m just reaching out to the moms. You will be pleased to know that my husband and I, along with Charmin & Cheryl, are talking about moving into the couples arena for next year’s conference. I have been asked a number of times about having something for the men and will be thrilled to be able to do so for next year. It is so exciting to me that many others I’ve met with have the same passion and vision for this. We are excited to see all that God will do with our meagre offering of trying to reach out and give moms and dads the tools to train their families in the way God intended. We appreciate your support of this vision!